Sunset at Chidiya Tapu


Darkness slow and deep, quiet, still, unmoving, unbreathing in a dark, sugary sleep: no pain, no joy, no sight, no sound, no taste; she remained floating, distant. She wouldn’t wake up, she’d stay in this cotton-wool world, its soft, sleepy music lifting her up through the roof, the banisters, the rooms up above, through the entire weight of the building, its steeple. She rose like a wisp of cloud. So this was what they call an out-of-body experience, she mused. Or perhaps, this is what death would feel like. To dissolve into nothingness, unburdened by memories, unfettered by purpose.

There was work to be done. All these boxes in the living room needed to be sorted. 30 years’ worth of baggage. Neat little columns she ticked along her journey – class topper, employee of the year, champion swimmer, stellar baker, devoted daughter, loving girlfriend. She sifted through it all, but could not find herself. Ironic, considering her whole life had been charted carefully with directions and milestones. Winning the school scholarship, bagging the best job offer on campus, dating her best match (and a great catch, as her mom liked to tease her). 

But Shriya had not factored in the restlessness growing within her. She’d begun to detest the comfortable rhythm of her life. Nothing excited her anymore, no accolades, accomplishments or moving to “the next stage” in life. It felt like she was drowning, and she had to fight and kick for each lungful of air. On a whim, she joined her neighbourhood trekking enthusiasts. Then it was an expedition to save and release Olive Ridley turtles into the ocean. Followed by a stargazing sojourn, scuba diving training, living on the edge of a forest sanctuary, discovering exotic cuisines, and appreciating renaissance art. Each day brought a new surprise, and for the very first time, Shriya threw away her checklist and grabbed life with both hands.

There was only one thing she craved now- waking up each day to do something new and never knowing what it’d be. Step by step, she dismantled her carefully constructed world. She gave up her job, and took on freelance gigs and odd jobs to support herself. No longer able to call any one place her home, she sold her apartment. Her parents thought their only child had become mentally unstable, but after several tearful remonstrations, they finally seemed to let go and embrace Shriya’s new life.

All that seemed to pale in comparison with the decision in front of her now. Shriya and the love of her life, Dhruv, were planning to have a calm, rational discussion about “where things were headed” (his idea). Like her, he had a life plan charted out as well. Marriage, children, moving abroad, etc. figured on this list. And Shriya realized, with growing dread, she did not care for any of these things. She sighed to herself and prepared for heartbreak.

The sunlit room was split into three sections, with piles labelled – to keep, to throw away and to put in storage for future. She only knew where to put her dreams, the rest had to be figured out now.

P.S. Wrote this as a response to ‘Muse of the month’ writing prompt from Women’s Web, so you’ll find the opening lines from Damyanti Biswas’ novel You Beneath Your Skin, that I had to use in my entry.

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